Here are 10 quick ways to boost your child's health.
1. Throw away the sweets
Reducing the sugar intake of 43 obese children between 9 and 18 years resulted in their health improving within 10 days, according to a report in the journal Obese. Added sugar was reduced from 28% to 10%. Although the children’s weight remained the same, they experienced a reduction in blood pressure, LDL-cholesterol (bad cholesterol), fasting blood glucose and insulin levels. Moreover, their liver functions improved.
It is obvious that cutting sugar from your children’s diet improves their health, both in the short and long term.
2. Introduce the 5-step hand-washing technique
Is your child washing their hands properly? According to Healio.com, Hong Kong Polytechnic University researchers concluded that when school children were taught the 5-step hand-washing technique, they experienced less absenteeism than children who washed their hands the usual way.
The children were taught the hand-washing technique through a song, poster, checklist, video, and checklist. The 5-step hand-washing technique, a simplification of the WHO recommended 7-step routine, involves washing the thumbs, finger tips, backs of hands, fingers, and in-between fingers.
3. Demand that your child’s school bus use cleaner fuels
The type of fuel your child’s school bus is running on could have an adverse effect on his health. Researchers at the University of Michigan discovered that when school buses run on ultra-low-sulphur diesel, it resulted in a "reduced marker for inflammation in the lungs by 16% over the whole group (275 school children), and 20% to 31% among children with asthma, depending on the severity of their disease."
The researchers concluded that children who regularly used school buses with cleaner fuels showed low absenteeism and experienced better lung development than those who traveled on buses running on dirty fuels.
4. Let your child have a pet
Are you always coming up with excuses when your kid asks you for a pet? If so, think again. Owning a dog could lower the risk of childhood obesity and anxiety, according to researchers at St George’s University of London, as reported in The Telegraph. Parents noticed the following benefits:
- Children lost weight and were healthier and fitter due to running around with the dog.
- Children developed strong emotional bonds with their pets.
- Owning and caring for pets made children more responsible.
- Their school work improved.
Some parents felt that pet care and ownership is essential for child development and should be included in in the school’s curriculum.
5. Expose them to green spaces
If you thought you're too busy to take your child to the park, please reconsider. The journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that green spaces improve children’s mental development. Experts believe there may be a link with the reduction of traffic pollution.
The Spanish researchers found that if school children were exposed to more vegetation, their short-term (or working) memory improved by 5%. On top of that, their ability to update memories with new information (superior memory) improved by 6% and it reduced inattentiveness.
6. Encourage them to take short walks
Instead of letting your child sit around watching TV for hours on end, let them take short breaks and go for brief walks. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism reports that interrupting sitting with short, moderate walks improves glucose tolerance in children. They concluded that interrupting sedentary behaviour in children also helps to prevent diabetes.
7. Help them choose a good work of fiction
Training your child to read good fiction for pleasure does wonders for their mental health, indicates research by the Reading Agency. The researchers found that reading for pleasure improves a child’s sense of empathy, reduces symptoms of depression and dementia, and improves well-being throughout life.
They also found that reading levels in the UK were low among all age groups. Most children do not read on a daily basis and almost a third of adults do not read for leisure. For your child to reap the benefits of reading you, as the parent, must set a good example so pick up a book and enjoy!
8. Let your child learn a musical instrument
If you thought parents who send their children for music lessons are a bunch of showoffs, read on. Research from Northwestern University found that learning to sing or play a musical instrument improved a child’s learning and reading skills.
Musical training helps the brain to process sounds, improving neural networks that also strengthened memory and learning skills.
9. Playing outside improves sight
Encouraging your child to play is not only good for getting fresh air but also for their sight, according to a report in Livescience. Chinese researchers studied 1,900 school children over 3 years. Those kids who were asked to spend more time outside were found to be 23% less likely to develop nearsightedness compared with those instructed to spend more time indoors.
Other researchers have linked the higher levels of light intensity outdoors to an increase in the release of dopamine from the retina of the eye. This inhibits the growth in the eye that is associated with myopia.
Parents are encouraged to have more outdoor activities with their children but are cautioned to protect their children’s skins and eyes from UV light. The researchers further warned that the benefits may not be very significant and it was not yet certain how long the positives would last.
10. Focusing on and developing your child’s strong points
The Journal reports that strength-based parenting helps a child to rely on his or her personal strength to deal with life’s stresses. Strength-based parenting means a parent identifies a child’s strengths and develops it. This was found to help children to respond to stress in a positive way and to avoid negative responses such as avoidance or aggression.
If you find yourself constantly criticising your child, grab a pen and paper and jot down your child’s strong points. This is the time to make the best of those strengths!